Dear Ylse

Dear Ylse,

When Matt and I signed up to take an exchange student, it was kind of random.  We just saw a girl from Norway needed a host family, and Matt sent me a text one day asking if this was something we were meant to do.  I looked into it, and within two days was texting Matt saying, “I hope you are serious, because we are getting a teenager!”

We had no idea how to raise a teenager.  It’s been years since we were teens and our children were ages 2-10.  What were we going to do with a teenager? What is a normal curfew?  Do we let her ride in cars with other teenagers? Do we have to talk to the parents of her friends before she can go to their house?! Of course our biggest fear was she wouldn’t enjoy living with us…our family with 4 young kids, constant chaos..and of all places in the US, who would choose to come to a tiny country town in Ohio?!

Then you came.  You seemed to seamlessly fit into our family, so easy to talk to and feel comfortable around.  You embraced our crazy life, always up for running around and trying new things.  The kids quickly got used to having a big sister around and quicker than I expected it just seemed normal to have you in our family…as if you were always a part of our family.

And what an easy teenager you were…where the worst “teenagerish” things we had to deal with were the couple of crisis when the dog ate your eyelashes or when there was no way you could go to school without your eyebrow makeup that went missing…or the times Matt would walk upstairs to find your window open in the winter while the heat was running, lol.   I think we may have been spoiled with how easy of a teenager you are.

We wanted to give you an experience you would cherish forever, bless you with an amazing memory, but what we didn’t expect was the way you would bless us.

You quickly found a place in our hearts, quickly felt like a daughter.  I loved the times we got to study Anatomy, I loved having a partner to shop with during gymnastics practice, I loved all the little things: feeling so proud when they announced you as Homecoming queen, prom dress shopping, experiencing Chicago and New York City, having a Kardashian and Starbucks partner.  I loved that Colton had someone to talk to when he got home from school, and that Mae finally had the older sister she had always dreamt of to look up to and do girly things with.

When I agreed to take an exchange student, I didn’t realize I’d gain a daughter and close friend.  I didn’t think about how hard it would be to say good-bye.

It’s sad, but was oh so worth it.  You will be a part of our hearts and lives forever.  You have amazing parents that we will always feel a special connection with.   Thank you for becoming a part of our crazy family.   Thank you for allowing us to be your parents for a year and opening our eyes to a whole new adventure.  The memories we made with you will last a lifetime, and though it is hard you are so far away, I know we will see each other regularly and be in each other’s lives forever.

Love you girl!!!


Your American Mom


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